Are we free?

"Silenced" oil painting by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

I painted the above art “Silenced” years ago after I was censored and blacklisted, put on target lists, and crimes were committed against me. This is eerily prophetic of what was to come. But, that’s not what I want to talk to you about today.

I’d like you to please pay attention to the above video of “Dove in a Forest“, one of my older paintings when I was first starting out as a career artist. I had my old camcorder then that was not HD, and this isn’t the most flattering footage, but it was nonetheless what I had chosen to share. I found this original video when sorting through my files. It was later replaced with a different video that I will share in a few minutes. I will explain why it was altered and potentially forever gone.

When I posed the question in the blog title “are we free”, many current situations probably came to your mind. However, I’d like you to think further back in time, and think smaller. Let’s contemplate how our creativity, independent voices, expressions, communications, and connections have been corralled, limited, and controlled in subtle ways that have happened over time, with many people not realizing it, and perhaps even denying the reality of. For it is there that it began, and why so many do not even recognize our present slavery.

One must understand the value of something before its loss is grieved. When a treasure is stolen, but the victim has no awareness of its loss or value, the victim is twice wronged. Firstly, the victim has been manipulated by the thief to believe that he has nothing of value to be stolen. Secondly, the thief has stolen it brazenly, without the victim even realizing the crime. But one day, the victim may understand this robbery has hurt him in ways he wasn’t aware of, and an otherwise organic path toward spiritual and intellectual growth has been trampled.

Social engineering is such a crime. It is an insidious technological form of mass manipulation that steals a treasure that most people aren’t aware of (our creative, intellectual, and spiritual freedom to live an authentic and organic life that is not covertly or overtly manipulated by profit or power driven entities), and don’t realize that this treasure has been stolen from us. It is theft nonetheless, and one day the impact of this spiritual and intellectual robbery will be greater understood.

 

This is a simplistic list, but quickly we can summarize how social engineering by governments partnering with tech companies and corporations target specific individuals and groups:

  • personalizing forms of censorship, covert or overt blacklists, throttling, blocks, algorithmic hiding of results/info, or deletions that apply to some persons or groups, but not to others; that apply to come topics, but not to others (controlling information)
  • corralling persons into groups that are meant to influence that individual, manipulating the natural path toward meeting people organically by showing certain people or groups while hiding or suppressing others (controlling association)
  • blocking some information while pushing others (propaganda and/or aggressive marketing)
  • skewing the frequency, rating, and feedback of communications to give a false impression of popularity or unpopularity (controlling perception)
  • engineering certain topics to appear to be “talked about by everyone” and thereby making that reality happen (steering conversation)

All of these things lead to people making choices in thought, word and deed that they may not have organically made. At a basic level, we may purchase something we normally wouldn’t have. That purchase may deny a worthy less politically connected competitor from our support. Or perhaps we wouldn’t have made any purchase at all if not steered toward doing do. In which case, the damage may be to our own bank accounts. 

Further, we can examine how a single purchase may alter our daily lives. A new appliance, for example, may change our routines, which may impact an entire household. This change may be positive, negative, or neutral, but if the decision for change was not organically chosen by us, it was not fully our choice. To the degree that we are manipulated into making choices we’d not have naturally done if all information was granted fair and equal access, we can’t accurately measure. 

The degree to which we are manipulated into changing our lives through purchases of services or products can vary widely. Someone who organically wouldn’t have chosen to subscribe to a streaming service, for example, may have otherwise found less captivating entertainment on television and perhaps would have spent his time unplugged. Maybe a book would have been read, or a journey to the backyard garden would have occurred. A conversation with a loved one, a decision to make dinner rather than order in, or any number of alternate paths could have been healthier and more spiritually beneficial than watching a screen.

In the case above, a single steered purchasing decision may have had a negative impact on the health, relationships, and spiritual and intellectual growth of an individual. That damage may be slight, but if time is treasure, every minute is precious. Add those minutes up, and the theft is greater than originally imagined. But, that’s still not where I’m headed with this post. 

It’s easy to see how physical decisions such as buying a product (the example of an appliance that changes a daily routine), or a service (the example of a streaming service that changes a lifestyle), can impact our lives. It’s also easy to see how censorship, throttling, banning, and secret tweaks to algorithms can change out lives; we have more or less visibility for work and relationships, we have more or less information in areas we wish to learn about, we are steered to think about policies and issues to vote in certain ways that will impact us globally, and much more. Yes, we can see all of that.

We can study this for years and still not get to the bottom of how insidious this evil is. We didn’t leap from a freer global society to one that is tightly controlled overnight. We didn’t go from the days of dial-up and civilian-run message boards to government/tech-allied moderated social media platforms overnight. None of this happened at warp speed, and much of it happened in subtle ways that most of us didn’t notice. That’s what I want to talk to you about today.

Compare this revised version of “Dove in a Forest” with the original version I shared with you at the top of this post.

Sometimes I created new versions of my videos because I have new software that will allow me to crop in tighter to the canvas. But often my revisions were not my choice. Social media platforms changed their time/size restrictions for uploading videos directly to their platforms, so I had to shorten my videos accordingly. Let’s play “spot the difference” briefly….

The revised video has me cut out of it entirely. You can no longer see my face. Now, truth be told I didn’t think unsmiling and rather unflattering footage of me was an asset, but at one time I was willing to share that vulnerable real side of me. That is the contemplative look I often have when I’m preparing to paint. I organically, originally allowed that to show.

It was that original video that led someone to request a print of “Dove in a Forest“. Something about this art really connected with them. Here’s a photo they shared with me of the framed print as displayed in their home.

What a humbling honor it is that my art is part of this family’s life! They are creating memories in this home, while something I’ve created quietly supports their laughter, tears and love as it rests on their furniture. For each blob of color is infused with a genuine desire for blessings and goodness, protection and prosperity.

But just think- what if this person had only seen the second video, the revised one? Would that magical connection to my painting have occurred? You can see that the second video has a different feel to it. It is shorter, faster, and less personal. The speed of it, just seconds faster, changes how it feels to view it. The music is different to accommodate the new speed, and possibly because I could no longer remember where I got that piece from. Music matters. A different composition changes the emotion.

For every compromise we make, a subtle shift occurs. Perhaps some of these changes are positive. It’s good to see clearer footage of my work, and shorter videos mean that more people have the attention span to watch them. However, are these changes meant for our own good? Just because we can make lemonade out of lemons, it does not mean that we would have chosen the lemons. How much do we value creative and intellectual freedom? And do we underestimate how easily we “the masses” are manipulated by emotion?

You may be aware that social media platforms, the entertainment industry, political parties, and nearly any organization or individual who market their policies, work, agenda, products or services rely heavily on market research. Short, clipped language is attention grabbing and addictive. Drama sells. They know what makes us tick. They study us. And we keep giving them more and more data to make their research increasingly more accurate and effective in manipulating us. 

With AI, they can dissect us at the speed of light. Knowledge is power- when they (entities in power over us) know us, they can control us. Our data is very valuable and as such, it is worth a lot of money. But it seems few of us understand this value, and how the theft of it hurts us. Even when we consent to the use of our data, entities are not honest about the extent in which our data is used to study us for the purpose of steering, manipulating, and controlling us. We are also kept in the dark about the compilation of our personality composite for government databases, shared with allied partners.

Anger is good for business. Short clipped messages seed miscommunication, misunderstandings, and misjudgments. When we are restricted in our language and limited in our sharing, we are less likely to contribute positive, thought provoking content that elevates and enlightens individuals. Rather, we unwittingly contribute to the fast paced culture of seed-feed-greed.

We seed the fertile fields of suspicion and malice when we short-sight our vision. We feed the masses when we contribute to the fast, chopping, clipped, and incomplete global conversation of hostility and fear. We satisfy greed of narcissists and dictators when we comply, when we willingly silence or cut short our creative voices.

Our data is valuable. What is meant to be extracted from us is the means to manipulate and control us: seed, feed, greed. But what if we rebel? What if we refuse to give them our anger? What if we become bored with drama? What if we reject steered conversations? What if we yawn and move on… to something fresh and new? What if we take back our power to think, speak, and create as we wish? What if we do not respond to the issues they push on us, but we listen to our inner voices and divine inspiration?

In this way, we protect our treasure. They are neither able to extract from us what they want, nor able to package it to push their agendas or grow their profit margins. We have rendered them impotent. We secure what they intend to steal when we value our treasure. They won’t know what our future thoughts and creations will be if we raise our spiritual and intellectual selves to new heights. They and their AI machines will never be able to successfully predict who we are because they have underestimated us. They have evaluated us on predictive programming alone, not by spiritual wisdom, discernment, and evidence of the human spirit.

Will you join me in my personal challenge? I am making a conscious effort to be aware of when I edit my words or when I alter my creative vision to conform with arbitrary or manipulative standards, or when I cave to the fear that the mob will retaliate against me. I will honor my God given purpose and I will not edit myself from view. I will not comply. I will do my part to restore intellectual and spiritual freedom to humanity. I will fight! Will you join me in this effort?

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